Sad things. I was so great at not working this last week that it's a shame to go back today. Also, today is the day I have my "favorite" 3 year olds, and I'm expecting that class to be at least as wonderful, if not wonderfuller than last time. I'm considering buying the little boy a helmet if he continues running headfirst into walls.
In about 40 minutes I have to go to the train station to go to Tsu. Two days ago I decided to find a shortcut to the train station, because I'd either taken the bus or biked down the main roads before, and both were time consuming. Since I'd have to look at a map to guess roughly where I was (no street names), I couldn't bike. I thought, 'That's fine, I'll go on a walk'. That walk lasted three hours. Granted, I spent some time taking pictures ("Ooh, a rice field!"), some time stopping because I found a shrine and a cemetery (more pictures), and some time buying dinner at a Family Mart, but I also got decidedly lost. I asked a variety of people for directions (and by asked, I mean I said "Matsusaka Eki?" which is the train station, and made my best 'I'm lost, help me' face). People who came to my rescue included an old man on a bike who was super happy to give me lengthy directions that were ultimately "keep going straight" and a teenage boy who was so scared this stranger was speaking to him that he shook. Reminded me of my scared-shaky World Studies students. His directions came in the form of subtle gesturing and not looking directly at me. Once I got there, I timed the walk back and it was roughly 40 minutes. Ew. By main roads it takes me about 20 to bike to the station, so we'll see how much time the 40-minute-walk route takes. I'm guessing 20 minutes, ha. I am a poor bike rider.
Other than taking Epic Walks and cleaning my apartment (I scrubbed things!), I also went to Nagoya with Katie and loved it. It's about an hour away by Expensive Train, and about 100 minutes away by Affordable Train. I took Affordable Train. When we got there we went straight to the castle (Nagoya Jou, I think) and walked around there. The outside is beautiful but they're doing construction on the grounds on one side, so it was less than picturesque. Inside I expected to find a period-decorated castle layout but was totally mistaken. It looked more like an 80s museum (carpeted floors, dark rooms, and things in giant display boxes) and was unbelievably interactive. When I stepped off the elevator (yes, elevator) the first thing I saw was a line of about 20 people waiting to take their picture with a golden dragon-fish statue. Clearly I had to get in this line, too. There was also an exhibit showing how hard it had been to move the rocks that were used to build the castle. You could pull on a rope and a meter would tell you how much weight you moved. I managed a phenominal 10 kg. Pathetic. There was also a box to sit in that had a TV screen in it, but I'm not sure what that was about. Overall it was nice, just not at all what I expected! Lots of golden dragon-fish statues.
After our necessary tourist trip the the castle, we went to the main entertainment/shopping area called Sakae. We found an English bookstore where we could pay twice what it would cost in America for books (thanks, Japan) but I bought a Japan guide (I've been needing one), A Wild Sheep Chase by Murakami (a coworker recommended reading this before I left, and I'm just getting around to it now...) and One Hundred Years of Solitude (thanks for the suggestion, Emily!). Then, after a delicious dinner and one giant beer each, we went to the Sunshine Mall and rode a Ferris Wheel! It was called the Sky Boat, and it's entrance was through a DVD store, which made it very difficult to get to. I thought that was funny, considering we were looking for the giant Ferris wheel on the side of the building, and we couldn't seem to find it. The Sky Boat was great - it moved so slowly that you only went around once, but the views were beautiful. Post Sky Boat we went to another mall, Oasis 21, to see a giant sculpture/structure called Spaceship Aqua. Hysterical. I'm not sure what this was, or why this was, but Spaceship Aqua had a shallow pool of water over a glass floor about two stories off the ground in a plaza that I think was called Field of Green. From it you could see the Sky Boat and the TV tower, which bore an uncanny resemblence to Le Tour Eiffel. Also, it had a park around it called Central Park. I guess Spaceship Aqua makes up for the TV Tower's lack of originality. Underneath Spaceship Aqua was the Galaxy Platform, which contained shops, a food court, and glowing dinosaur bushes. Yes, glowing dinosaur bushes.
Next time we go to Nagoya I want to see a shrine on the edge of the city that is supposed to be beautiful. Other than that, it's a nice place to just hang out in and shop. We didn't really see the neighborhood by the main train station yet either. So a return trip is definitely in order.
Well I should really begin my perilous and probably lengthy bikeride to Matsusaka Eki. Wish me luck.